An Addict Confesses
t’s a new year; time to face facts. I’ve decided to come clean on this blog and admit what I’ve known for years, but could never face up to. I can’t help myself. I am an addict. I can’t get enough of them, ever, and the ones that used to do the trick are now no longer enough. As each month passes I need something stronger. Books. I love the sight and smell of old paperbacks and new ones, I love them whether they’re on Kindle or Penguin, but now the addiction is out of control.
For several years now I’ve tried to believe those stories about TV and film being the most important artistic outlets of the 21st century, and that you’re a snob if you don’t watch ‘Boardwalk Empire’ or understand the underlying ironies beneath ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. (Actually, taking those last two shows, even the titles don’t make sense. The first isn’t a pun but the substitution of the wrong word in a familiar phrase, and the second started out about sixty years ago as ‘Come Dancing’, the world’s most boring programme. Then some BBC jobsworth remembered that the film ‘Strictly Ballroom’ had reinvented ballroom dancing, so they mashed the two together into the sort of ESL phrase you’d see misprinted on a shop window in Whitechapel.)
But TV isn’t very interesting at all, barring the odd box set of ‘Breaking Bad’, and even that goes on a bit. Books, however, they don’t let you down, and there are infinite riches to discover.
Right now I’m reading ‘The Summer Isles’ by the mysteriously underrated Ian R Macleod, ‘Bitten By The Tarantula’ by Julian Maclaren-Ross (dead for some 40 years but now finally being hailed as a genius) and Norman Collins’ forgotten London epic ‘London Belongs To Me.’ I’ve just sent away for JB Priestley’s ‘Angel Pavement’, Edgar Box’s ‘Death Likes It Hot’, ‘The History of Vauxhall Gardens’ and ‘The Great Coaching Inns of London’.
Somebody please stop me before my shelves collapse. Although they probably won’t collapse a/ because I had them steel-reinforced (yes, really – those shelves in the photo have no central pillars because they’re built around a metal skeleton) and b/ because I now have 245 books to read on my Kindle. If I lived to be 150 I wouldn’t get through all the books I’ve bought. Is there some kind of 12-Step programme I can take to make me give up this debilitating habit?